Chandler Smith Scores Another Short Track Top Five in Pensacola

Chandler Smith Scores Another Short Track Top Five in Pensacola

If Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) has proven anything in his brief ARCA Menards Series career, it’s that he is a great qualifier, he can lead a lot of laps, and he’s a threat to win each and every time he straps in.

Okay, that’s three things. But each one is true and all three were evident in the ARCA Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway.

Smith qualified his Venturini Motorsports Toyota on the General Tire Pole – his fifth pole award in ten series appearances – and jumped out to an early lead once the race started.

The abrasive track surface at Five Flags posed some challenges to every team in the race, and Smith’s was no different. With tire grip an issue, Smith was slipping and sliding towards the end of the second green flag run of the race and Smith fell off the lead lap when then-leader Raphael Lessard (No. 19 FRL Express Chevrolet) passed him. A well-timed caution moments later put Smith on the lead lap and four fresh tires for the run to the finish put Smith back on the charge

He quickly knifed his way through the field, going from ninth on lap 167 to fourth at lap 175. Smith wasn’t able to gain any more positions throughout the final 25 laps but he did lock down his seventh career ARCA Menards Series top five finish and kept alive the streak of a top ten finish in every career ARCA start.

"This Is Its Own Unique Track. We Won't Go Anywhere Else Like This Place"- Chandler Smith Post Race

“I consider myself a sore loser if I don’t win so I’ll own up to that,” he said with a smile after the race. “I can’t thank these Venturini guys enough for the work they’ve been putting in. It’s been a pretty solid off season for us. We shook the car down, rebuilt it, and this was a clean sheet coming into this place for us so we didn’t quite know what to expect. I was basing it off the super (late model) stuff here and get really good bite up off the corner and it backfired on us late in the race. I was able to hang out in the middle there but everyone else was running a groove lower and they had bite. We’ll take some notes and move on to Salem.”

The struggles at Pensacola will result in extensive note taking by Billy Venturini and his team, but the good thing according to Smith is that Five Flags is so unique nothing that worked – or didn’t work – there translates to any other track on the schedule.

“This track is its own unique animal,” he said. “We won’t go anywhere else that’s like this place.”

Smith is already counting down the days until he gets to return to Salem Speedway, the next stop on the ARCA Menards Series schedule. Smith started from the General Tire Pole last year and was fighting with Venturini teammate Christian Eckes for the win when a flat tire on the last lap ended his bid for the win. In the fall event, Smith dominated by leading 199 of the race’s 200 laps en route to his second career series win.

“Heck yeah I am looking forward to going back there,” he said quickly and to the point, with a big grin on his face.

Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is set for 11 am ET on Saturday, April 13 with General Tire Pole Qualifying scheduled for 3 pm ET that afternoon. The green flag on round three of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season will drop shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, April 14. The race will be televised live on MAVTV and ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates at ARCARacing.com. New members can register for free at ARCARacing.com/login.

 

Comments
RobbyG83

Good luck at salem and go get'em .